Johanan’s family was traditional and liberal leaning towards socialism. His father was a follower of Béla Kun and in 1919 carried out a communist regime that was crushed. His father was arrested and did time in prison.
In 1924, after his father was released from prison, the family moved to Bratislava. At the age of fifteen Johanan joined the movement. From 1939 to 1941 he was a member of the central leadership of the movement and spent some time in a hahshara. With the beginning of the deportations from Slovakia he went underground.
In 1942 Johanan moved to Hungary and took part in the underground activities. At this time he met Lea, his future wife.
In 1943 he succeeded in making aliya in a legal way escorting a group of adolescents who had received the authorization to leave Hungary. Johanan joined Kibbutz Ha’ogen and was a member until his death.